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Eighttofasttocatch leads entire way in Maryland Million Classic victory

Posted on 19 October 2013 by WNST Staff

EIGHTTOFASTTOCATCH PROVES TOO FAST TO CATCH IN MARYLAND MILLION CLASSIC

LAUREL, MD. 10-19-13—Sylvia E. Heft’s Eighttofasttocatch led from start to finish and won the $150,000 Maryland Million Classic for the second time in the past three years. Last year the son of Not For Love finished a fifth in the Classic as the betting favorite but this year things were completely different.

The Maryland Million is the one of the most important racing days at Laurel Park with 11 events for runners sired by Maryland-based stallions for combined purses totaling $1 million. The 28th annual event drew a crowd of 18,036 on a cool, crisp Saturdayafternoon in central Maryland.

Garrison Forest High School graduate Forest Boyce sent the 7-year old to the lead from his advantageous rail position and was able to nurse him around on the lead in 1:50.42 for the 1-1/8th mile distance. Eighttofasttocatch won under a drive by 3-1/4 lengths over Romancing the Gold, with Wild Louis taking third.

“It worked out great. We got away well,” Boyce said. “I thought someone might try us early, soften us up but it didn’t happen. My whole family is from here. My ninety year old grandmother came out today, which was really cool.”

Eighttofasttocatch is 2-for-6 this year, which includes a score in the Henry Clark Stakes and a gutsy second in the Pimlico Special (G3) on Preakness weekend. The 7-year-old now has seven career stakes victories at Laurel Park and has earned $794,585.

“I was very comfortable with where I had him coming into this race, but my concern was that I was comfortable last year and it didn’t go quite as well,” said winning trainer Tim Keefe. “I didn’t think I needed a prep for this race because we all felt that he was right. I guess my only concern now is that he is seven and we may only have him for another year or two. He will be hard to replace in our barn.”

The winner paid $2.60 as the popular favorite.

“I guess winning feels like I was pitching in the World Series,” said Arnold Heft, the husband of the winning owner. “The only thing bad is, I don’t know where I’ll be tomorrow. My wife is not well. I’m just sorry she’s not here. She was here the last time. Racing keeps me going right now. When Eighttofasttocatch runs his race, he won’t get beat.”

Travis Dunkelberger (jockey, Romancing the Gold-2nd), “He tried hard and ran good. I wanted to push more but I didn’t want to cost us second.”

Trevor McCarthy (jockey, Wild Louis-3rd), “He ran his butt off today. The winner was much the best. This was his first time at the distance and he loved it but Eighttofasttocatch was just too fast.”

J.D. Acosta (jockey, Big Branch-4th), “I was in a comfortable spot and happy with the way he ran but the winner is just too classy.”

Xavier Perez (jockey, Talk Show Man-5th), “We didn’t get a good break. We came out nose first out of the gate. Then he relaxed and when I asked for more he ran well. We lost a lot of ground at the beginning which cost us the race.”

Kendrick Carmouche (jockey, Seventeenohsix-6th), “I was sitting in a perfect spot but there was no speed in the race other than the winner. You can’t do much about that.”

Julian Pimentel (jockey, Count to Seven-7th), ““He tried to make a little run at the end but they just ran away from him.”

Introduced in 1986, the Maryland Million has been duplicated by more than 20 other states. Hall of Fame TV Broadcaster Jim McKay originally proposed the Maryland Million concept and remained the Chairman of the Board until his death on June 7, 2008.

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Laurel Park fall meet stakes schedule approved

Posted on 16 July 2013 by WNST Staff

LAUREL PARK FALL MEET STAKES SCHEDULE APPROVED

LAUREL, MD. 07-16-13—The Maryland Jockey Club unveiled the 2013 Laurel Park fall schedule today after reaching agreement with both the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association and Maryland Horse Breeders Association. The schedule was approved by the Maryland Racing Commission earlier this afternoon at its monthly meeting.

After a 14-week break, which will include ten live days of racing at Timonium during the State Fair in late August and early September, live racing will resume at the major tracks after Labor Day. Racing will take place four days a week through the end of the year on a Wednesday through Saturday schedule, holidays excluded.

The 59-day fall meeting, which begins September 19 and concludes December 31, includes 31 stakes races, worth more than $3.3 million.

Headlining the stand will be the 28th running of the Jim McKay Maryland Million Day for the offspring of Maryland-based stallions on Saturday, Oct. 19 and the Fall Festival of Racing on Saturday, Sept. 21. That card will feature five stakes races on the turf as well as the $350,000 Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash and the Jameela Stakes for Maryland-breds.

“All of the stakes races will occur on six Saturday afternoons, which we feel will help our profile on the simulcast signal,” said Maryland Jockey Club president Tom Chuckas.  “Kicking off the meet on opening weekend with five turf stakes and the De Francis Dash will get us off to a great start.”

The stakes races will take place on September 21 (seven stakes), October 19 (nine), November 9 (four), November 16 (four),December 7 (four) and December 28 (three).

Maryland Million officials have eliminated two stakes races from the program (Turf Sprint and Oaks) but will still run 11 races on the card, replacing those with a pair of $50,000 maiden races on the turf. In addition, the purses of the Turf and Ladies have been increased from $100,000 to $125,000.

Laurel Park Fall Meeting Dates:

  • ·        September 19-20-21
  • ·        September 25-26-27-28
  • ·        October 2-3-4-5
  • ·        October 9-10-11-12
  • ·        October 14-17-18-19
  • ·        October 23-24-25-26
  • ·        October 30-31-November 1-2
  • ·        November 6-7-8-9
  • ·        November 13-14-15-16
  • ·        November 20-21-22-23
  • ·        November 27-28-29-30
  • ·        December 4-5-6-7
  • ·        December 11-12-13-14
  • ·        December 18-19-20-21
  • ·        December 26-27-28
  • ·        December 31

 

About Laurel Park

Laurel Park is a Stronach Group company, North America’s leading Thoroughbred racetrack owner/operator. The Stronach Group racetracks include Santa Anita Park, Gulfstream Park & Casino, Golden Gate Fields, Portland Meadows, Laurel Park and Pimlico Race Course, home of the world-famous Preakness. The company owns and operates the Palm Meadows Training Center in Florida and is one of North America’s top race horse breeders through its award-winning Adena Springs operation. The Stronach Group is one of the world’s largest suppliers of pari-mutuel wagering systems, technologies and services. Its companies include AmTote, a global leader in wagering technology; Xpressbet, an Internet and telephone account wagering service; and Monarch Content Management, which acts as a simulcast purchase and sales agent of horseracing content for numerous North American racetracks and wagering outlets. The Stronach Group is also a major producer of televised horse racing programming through its HRTV cable and satellite network and is North America’s premier supplier of virtual online horse racing games, as well as a leading producer of social media content for the horseracing industry.

 

-mjc-

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MJC honors jockey Pino for win milestone

Posted on 11 November 2012 by WNST Staff

PINO HONORED BY THE MARYLAND JOCKEY CLUB


LAUREL, MD. 11-10-12—The Maryland Jockey Club honored jockey Mario Pino, who moved into the top 10 on the all-time win list earlier this fall, with a winners’ circle presentation Saturday afternoon at Laurel Park.

 

“It’s a great honor and I am very grateful,” Pino said. “Maryland has been great to me, riding here for 30 years, seeing people come and go. I set a goal to be in the top 10 though before I ever won a race I remember reading the Racing Form about a rider who just reached 5,000 and thought how tough that had to be.”

 

On September 18 at Presque Isle Downs, Pino moved into sole possession of 10th place on the all-time win list with a victory aboard Incredibly Smart. The win was number 6,471 for Pino, one more than Hall of Famer Earlie Fires. Pino currently has visited the winners’ circle 6,484 times. His first winner was with Ed’s Desire on Jan. 16, 1979 at Bowie Race Course when he was 17 years old.

 

“I just tried to go to work every day and be as consistent as possible. When that happens, you get an opportunity to ride good horses and win races,” said Pino, who has eleven 200-win seasons and had at least 150 victories 28 times. “I love to ride and love to cross the finish line first.”

 

Consistency helped Pino establish a record for most victories on the Maryland circuit with 4,958 winners at Pimlico Race Course, Laurel Park, Bowie, Timonium and Marlboro. Though he rode in the shadows of champion riders Kent Desormeaux, Edgar Prado and Ramon Dominguez, the 51-year-old ranked in the top five of the state standings for 25 straight years from 1979 to 2003.

 

“When I first started here it was Bill Passmore (3,531 wins), Vince Bracciale (3,545) and Chuck Baltazar (2,912),” added Pino. “Riding with the likes of Prado and Desormeaux, I think I learned from them to become a better rider. I wanted to be leading rider but as time went on I realized these guys were Hall of Famers. To be second to them was no disgrace.”

 

Pino, who was inducted into the Maryland State Athletic Hall of Fame Thursday evening, became the 15th jockey in North America to win 6,000 races when he rode Pass Play, a horse trained by his brother Mike, to victory at Laurel Park on Nov. 7, 2007.

 

“I don’t get very emotional but I did at the Hall of Fame ceremony and when I won 6,000 almost five years ago to the day,” the 51-year-old said. “I want to thank all the trainers who let me ride their horses. They helped me raise my family here and to be able to sustain a career for this long by trusting me.”

 

Pino plans on taking the winter off but expects to ride next year at Presque Isle Downs, where he finished third in the 2012 standings with nearly 100 victories.

 

“I’m not going to retire but I may never ride again here at Laurel Park or at Pimlico,” said Pino, whose horses have earned more than $119 million, 34th in the all-time standings. “I am going to take the winter off and go back there to ride in May. I’m going to miss the post parade, the riders in the room and the fans here. These are the best fans in the world.”

 

Nine of the 10 riders ahead of Pino, including all-time leader Russell Baze (11,765 wins & counting), are members of Racing’s Hall of Fame. Other immortals to reach the milestone include Laffit Pincay (9,530), Bill Shoemaker (8,833), Pat Day (8,803) and Chris McCarron (7,141).

 

“I look at those names and to be in this select company is surreal,” Pino said. “These are the best jocks to ever ride. To be in the sentence is a dream come true. Maybe one day I’ll be considered.”

 

ADDITIONAL MARIO MILESTONES

  • one of the principle players in the 2007 Triple Crown as the rider for Hard Spun with an exciting second place finish in the Kentucky Derby and a respectable third in the Preakness Stakes. The duo completed a fantastic campaign with a game second place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
  • became the 18th rider in history to win 5,000 races and did it on his 41st birthday (September 8, 2002), riding Outdone to victory on the grass at Delaware Park
  • ranked in the top 10 nationally in victories for four consecutive years beginning in 1999
  • top rider in Maryland in 1999 (247 wins) and 2002 (227 victories)
  • tied with Edgar Prado for second on Maryland Million Day with 16 victories
  • earned the first G1 score with Wildcat Bettie B in the 2006 Prioress at Belmont Park
  • has three victories in the G2 Barbara Fritchie Handicap (1992, 1995 & 1999)
  • won a career-best seven races at Colonial Downs on July 7, 2002
  • rode six winners in Maryland on May 11, 2002 (Pimlico) and October 25, 2003 (Laurel Park)
  • runner-up for the 1979 Eclipse Award for Outstanding Apprentice Jockey

·        finalist for the George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award given to the jockey whose career and personal character reflect positively on the sport in 2003, 2007 and 2008

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Maryland native, Orioles fan Merson wins WSOP Main Event

Posted on 31 October 2012 by WNST Staff

(AP) — A 24-year-old Maryland poker professional has won the World Series of Poker main event, lasting nearly 12 hours in a marathon card session to push past his last opponents for the $8.53 million title early Wednesday.

Greg Merson emerged with the title before dawn in Las Vegas after a session that proved a showcase for his skills amid the unpredictability of tournament no-limit Texas Hold ‘em.

On the last hand, Merson put Las Vegas card pro Jesse Sylvia, all-in with a king high. Sylvia thought hard, then called with a suited queen-jack.

“This whole stage is nothing you could ever prepare for,” Merson said.

Merson’s hand held through the community cards – two sixes, a three a nine and a seven – to give him the title and put his names alongside former champions including Doyle Brunson, Phil Hellmuth and Johnny Chan.

After an exhausting session, he’s ready to join them.

“I feel pretty good – got all the tears out so now I feel relaxed,” Merson said.

Merson also pushed past Hellmuth for the series’ Player of the Year honors, proving himself the top performer throughout this year’s series of card tournaments in Las Vegas and Europe. Merson also won a tournament bracelet this summer in Las Vegas, for a no-limit Texas Hold ‘em 6-handed tournament.

Sylvia won $5.3 million for second place.

“That was nuts, man,” Sylvia said. “I thought whoever was going to heads-up was going to be much deeper than we were.”

Merson’s victory over Sylvia, 26, came after the pair outlasted the last amateur at the table, 21-year-old Jake Balsiger. The Arizona State senior hoping to become the youngest World Series of Poker champion was eliminated in third place, more than 11 hours into the marathon.

Balsiger gambled his last chips with a queen-10 and was dominated by Merson’s king-queen.

Merson’s hand held through five community cards, forcing Balsiger to exit the tournament no richer than he was starting Tuesday’s finale.

The political science major who has vowed to graduate won $3.8 million for third place.

“I have some homework due tomorrow, my Supreme Court class,” Balsiger said. “I didn’t do it last week because I was in a final table simulation, so my professor’s probably not the happiest with me.”

His ouster set up Merson against Sylvia for the title, with $8.53 million at stake.

Even before Balsiger was eliminated, the players set a series record by pushing beyond 364 hands at the final table. Balsiger lost on hand 382, while Sylvia lost on hand 399.

All three players traded chips, big bluffs and shocking hands during their marathon run.

They started play Tuesday night having already outlasted six others at a final table that began on Monday. But they refused to give in to one another, with roughly $4.8 million on the line – the difference between first and third place.

“This is exciting,” Balsiger told his tablemates just before midnight Wednesday in a game playing out as part mental sparring, part plain luck.

Merson took a commanding chip lead early with perhaps his gutsiest play of the tournament – sensing weakness in Balsiger and re-raising a 10 million chip bet all-in with just queen high. Balsiger couldn’t call, and Merson moved up to more than 100 million in chips.

He didn’t have that chip lead for long.

Several hands later, Balsiger wagered the last of his chips with an ace-10 and was well behind Sylvia’s ace-queen with his tournament at risk. But a 10 came on the turn, allowing Balsiger to double up.

Then, Sylvia went all-in against Merson, his ace-king against Merson’s pocket kings. A four on the river made a wheel straight – ace through five – and vaulted Sylvia to the chip lead, sending his supporters at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino into a frenzy.

Later in the session, Balsiger doubled his chips to a lead through Sylvia with pocket kings. Soon after, Sylvia took the chip lead back.

And so it went – par for the course in poker, a game where skill is significant, but luck is certainly a factor.

Balsiger eliminated Russell Thomas in fourth place just after midnight early Tuesday to set up the trio’s final showdown.

Merson went into play Tuesday night with 88.4 million in chips, compared with 62.8 million for Sylvia and 46.9 million for Balsiger

Merson picked up hands and took control of the three-handed table at the start, picking up strong hands and building his stack to more than half the chips in the tournament.

But Sylvia’s fold of a strong hand – a nine high flush – likely kept him in the tournament after he finished contemplating a Merson bet of nearly 3 million in chips. Merson held a queen high flush in a cooler-type hand – one that gamblers in Sylvia’s spot routinely lose on.

Sylvia went into the nine-handed final table with a chip lead but lost it to Merson after Merson benefited from an opponent’s unforced error.

Merson eliminated Hungarian poker professional Andras Koroknai in sixth place, calling Koroknai’s all-in bet with an ace-king and finding Koroknai with king-queen – a marginal hand for the situation.

Chips have no real monetary value in tournament poker. Each player at the final table must lose all his chips to lose the tournament, and win all the chips at the table to be crowned champion.

The tournament began in July with 6,598 players and was chopped down to nine through seven sessions spread over 11 days. Play stopped after nearly 67 hours logged at the tables for each player, with minimum bets going up every two hours.

The finalists played Monday night until only three players remained, leaving the top three to settle the title.

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Not Aboard claims Maryland Million Classic

Posted on 07 October 2012 by WNST Staff

NOT ABROAD TRIUMPHS IN MARYLAND MILLION CLASSIC 

LAUREL, MD. 10-06-12—Jockey Nick Petro and his mount Not Abroad saw an inviting opening along the rail as they circled the far turn. They galloped through the gaping hole, came out the clear leader and drew off to win the $150,000 Jim McKay Maryland Million Classic at Laurel Park.

The Maryland Million is the most important racing day at Laurel Park with 11 races for runners sired by Maryland-based stallions for combined purses totaling $1.05 million. The 27th annual event drew a crowd of 18,420 on Saturday afternoon.

Trained by Petro’s brother Michael, Not Abroad is owned by Tim Cunningham and is a son of the Maryland stallion Not For Love. Regal Warrior, who led from the start, held for second while Tujoes rallied to finish third. The also-rans were Cactus Charlie (4th), defending champion Eighttofasttocatch (5th) and In the Juice (6th).

“I was happy with his performance,” said jockey Petro. “Real early we got stuck on the inside and I wasn’t happy with my spot. But we got closer and closer and everything worked out. We figured there would be a few horses outside of us with speed so we went in thinking, ‘sit’. We did and it worked out great when it was time to go. He was good. Real good.”

Not Abroad finished second in the Classic two years ago and was third last year.

“We had been in this race the last several years,” said trainer Petro. “We felt coming in today that we had a very good chance to win. He has been doing very well lately and we looked forward to this race. We had a great race and at the 3/8th’s pole everything opened up for us. My brother ran a very good race.”

This was his second stakes win of the year for Not Abroad after capturing the Jim French Memorial at Delaware in May. Not Abroad is an eight time winner from thirty-two starts and a winner of over $600,000.

Not Abroad paid $9.40. The exacta returned $63.80 and the triple paid $444.10.

Julian Pimentel (jockey, Regal Warrior-2nd) said, “He broke good. No problems. He tried hard we just ran into a better horse, I guess. Just couldn’t keep up down the lane with the winner.”

Angel Arroyo (jockey, Tujoes-3rd) said, “Good trip. Everything was fine. The horse finished up well.”

Shannon Uske (jockey, Cactus Charlie- 4th) said, “We were in a nice spot. He just didn’t fire down the lane. We had the trip we wanted. He just didn’t have the kick like we thought he would.”

Sheldon Russell (jockey, Eighttofasttocatch-5th) said, “I was happy with the trip but disappointed when I asked him to pick it up at the half-mile pole. We were struggling and he never got comfortable today. It was not our day.”

Tim Keefe (trainer, (jockey, Eighttofasttocatch-5th) said, “I am disappointed, obviously. I thought I had everything going in the right direction with him and said earlier in the week if he gets beat it would be by a better horse. Unfortunately he got beat by four better horses. I thought he would run a great race today. This was uncharacteristic of him.”

Wesley Ho (jockey, In The Juice-6th) said, “He tried hard but he got tired at the end.”

Introduced in 1986, the Maryland Million has been duplicated by more than 20 other states. Hall of Fame TV Broadcaster Jim McKay originally proposed the Maryland Million concept and remained the Chairman of the Board until his death on June 7, 2008.

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Secretariat’s 1973 Preakness winning time to be reviewed

Posted on 12 June 2012 by WNST Staff

MARYLAND RACING COMMISSION AGREES TO REVIEW TIMING OF SECRETARIAT’S 1973 PREAKNESS STAKES
New Evidence to Be Presented at June 19 Meeting

BALTIMORE, Md. (June 12, 2012) – Penny Chenery, the owner of Secretariat and Thomas Chuckas, the President of the Maryland Jockey Club have requested that the Maryland Racing Commission conduct a hearing to consider “compelling” evidence, based upon advances in modern video technology, regarding the long-standing controversy surrounding Secretariat’s winning time in the 1973 Preakness Stakes. The Commission has agreed to do so and it will consider the request at its upcoming meeting on June 19th at Laurel Park.
The electronic timer in use at Pimlico for the 1973 Preakness recorded a winning time of 1:55—a clocking that quickly became the source of controversy after two independent clockers from the Daily Racing Form had individually hand-timed the race at a much faster 1:53 2/5. In the days following the 1973 Preakness, the stewards at Pimlico, and later the Commission, concluded that there were “extenuating circumstances” attendant to the electronic timer’s recording.  As a result, the official time was subsequently changed to that reported by Pimlico’s official hand clocker — 1:54 2/5.
Had Secretariat’s time been officially recorded as 1:53 2/5 – the time still recognized today by the Daily Racing Form - he would have beaten Canonero II’s track record of 1:54 for the 1 3/16-mile distance, set during the 1971 Preakness Stakes. Instead, the Preakness wound up being the only ”jewel” of Secretariat’s three Triple Crown race victories in which he did not establish a new track record.
“For me, revisiting this dispute on a new day is matter of resolution – for historians, for sportswriters and for racing fans,” said Mrs. Chenery. “Their voices are supported by sound evidence, and they deserve to be heard.”
The Maryland Jockey Club, which operates Pimlico Race Course, agrees that the time has come to settle the issue.
“During the last 40 years, video technology has been accepted in other professional sports as a supportive mechanism for officials to ensure fairness and accuracy in their decisions,” said Maryland Jockey Club President Tom Chuckas. “It is important for horse racing and the record books to confirm the correct time in this historical race. It is the appropriate thing to do.”
In later runnings of the second leg of the Triple Crown, Tank’s Prospect (1985), Louis Quatorze (1996) and Curlin (2007) separately established the current, officially – recognized Preakness Stakes record time of 1:53 2/5. The track record at Pimlico for 1 3/16 miles is held by Farma Way with a time of 1:52 2/5 when he won the 1991 Pimlico Special.
The June 19 Maryland Racing Commission meeting will be held at Laurel Park beginning at 1:00 pm and is open to the public.

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MJC says wagering figures up in 2012

Posted on 23 May 2012 by WNST Staff

Pimlico Announces Final Spring Meet Handle Figures

BALTIMORE, 05-23-12—The Maryland Jockey Club concluded its spring meeting at Pimlico Race Course last weekend, posting average wagering figures which were 9% higher than the 2011 spring meet. The average daily handle went from $4.72 million to $5.17 million. The stand featured 29 live racing dates and 21 simulcast days.

“It is significant news that the live and export numbers increased from a year ago,” Maryland Jockey Club president Tom Chuckas said. “We finished strong as betting was up in May on nine of 11 days of live racing. Our handle improved $4.1 million on Preakness day and $3.1 million last Friday which helped the final numbers and I have to thank our racing office for carding two unbelievable cards.”

Attendance was up nearly 9% at Pimlico as the Preakness day crowd increased from 107,398 to a record 121,309. Performances by Grammy Award winner Maroon 5 and Billboard Music Award winner Wiz Khalifa in the infield plus the presence of Kentucky Derby winner I’ll Have Another in Baltimore for 12 days before the middle jewel of racing’s Triple Crown contributed to make it a must-see event.

“We continue to enhance the infield experience since changing the beverage policy after the 2008 Preakness and got lucky as Maroon 5’s popularity skyrocketed after we booked them,” added Chuckas. “I don’t think you can put a dollar figure on what it meant having trainer Doug O’Neill bring the Kentucky Derby winner here two days after winning the Derby instead of just three days before the Preakness. Their presence increased our visibility in the market as Doug and his team became part of the community leading up to the big weekend.”

Castellano, Ness, Midwest Thoroughbred, Inc. Capture Spring Meet Titles

The eight-week Pimlico spring meeting ended Saturday afternoon with Abel Castellano, Jamie Ness and Midwest Thoroughbred, Inc. winning individual titles. The 29-day stand began at the historic home of the Preakness Stakes (G1) on March 30.

Castellano won the first race of the meet and never looked back, dominating the rider standings with 41 victories, 22 more than Horacio Karamanos. The 28-year-old rode winners for 14 different trainers, including 23 for Ness. The duo teamed up for six multiple win days, including four on May 11.

“I am so happy with the way the meet went,” Castellano said. “My agent Kevin Witte put in a lot of hard work and I wouldn’t have won the meet without him. I was winning races nearly every day (24 of the 29 days) as trainers gave me an opportunity to show them what I can do.”

Castellano arrived in Maryland as a 19-year-old and has been a consistent top five rider in the state since. He captured his first career riding title during the 2003 fall meet at Laurel Park and waited nearly nine years for his second.

“I was very young when I won that first title and almost expect it to happen all the time,” added Castellano, who has 73 winners in Maryland this year, three more than reigning champion Sheldon Russell. “Now I am married with two kids and another on the way and have more responsibility. I am taking things more seriously-putting in more work in the mornings. When the big-name riders came in last week and asked who the leading rider was, it made me happy that they knew I was.”

Ness saddled 24 winners from just 65 starters during the stand, 13 more than Dane Kobiskie and Hugh McMahon. Ness leads the nation with 178 winners through May 22, including 47 in Maryland.

“Riding for Jamie Ness is the best,” said Castellano. “I know that every horse is at 100 percent and riding horses like that increases your confidence. I work a lot of horses for him in the morning and love having the opportunity to ride for him.”

Midwest Thoroughbreds topped the owner standings at Old Hilltop, finishing first 24 times from 64 starters, all with Ness.

-mjc-

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Your Monday Reality Check-Horse Racing, Orioles in similar spot for three weeks

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Your Monday Reality Check-Horse Racing, Orioles in similar spot for three weeks

Posted on 21 May 2012 by Glenn Clark

I’ve attempted to put events I’ve attended into words for years.

Baltimore Ravens football games, University of Maryland football and basketball games, a multitude of local hoops and lacrosse games and even a press conference or twenty have quickly turned into 600-1400 words worth of type off my fingers.

Almost every time I’ve written something, even the columns I’ve been particularly pleased with, I’ve looked somewhere else on the web and thought to myself “damn, that person can WRITE” after reading what they had to say about the same event.

Such was the case again this weekend. I had already decided my Monday morning column would be related to the 137th running of the Preakness Stakes, but I hadn’t exactly decided what angle I was going to take. It only took me a trip to my friend Kevin Van Valkenburg (of ESPN The Magazine/Hug It Out Radio fame and late Baltimore Sun)’s Facebook page for me to once again utter the phrase.

It wasn’t because of something KVV had written this time though. It was one of his colleagues’ stories he had linked, and it made me say “damn, Jeff MacGregor can WRITE.”

MacGregor scribed this exceptional postscript to an incredible victory from Kentucky Derby champ I’ll Have Another, celebrating the excitement of an underdog champ at the coming buildup to a Triple Crown chance in the context of a fledgling sport.

Many commenters on ESPN.com and throughout social media however were turned off by the nature of MacGregor’s tone, most notably this line…

“None of which matters, because horse racing is dead.”

MacGregor didn’t really say anything we haven’t already accepted as fact, we’ve just been more apt to use a kinder term like “struggling” or “suffering” instead of flat out placing the industry in a black bag and shipping it to the morgue.

Horse racing HAS been troubled for some time. The depth of the fall has been particularly evident in the state of Maryland, where “the sport of kings” has been all but nonexistent for years. Sure, the industry shines for a few days each spring at Pimlico and each fall at Laurel Park, but even on the brightest day the problems in the industry are obvious.

Unlike some, I have no interest in fighting with MacGregor. I think he’s absolutely right. I just feel as though the potentially monumental turn for horse racing in the next month can be celebrated whether or not the sport is staring into the face of imminent doom.

I’ll Have Another’s charge to the wire Saturday was breathtaking. 14 days earlier we had no way to know that an unknown trainer (Doug O’Neill) and jockey (Mario Gutierrez) had a longshot in position to track down the exceptional favorite (Bodemeister) trained by the Hall of Famer (Bob Baffert) and ridden by a Hall of Famer (Mike Smith) as well. On Saturday we knew it was possible but found it no less amazing.

“There’s no way this can happen again.”

You definitely heard me make the argument for Bodemeister throughout the week. “There’s no speed horse to take Bodemeister out to a dangerous speed this time. The race is 1/16 of a mile shorter. There are nine fewer horses to crowd things at the front and push the favorite too much early. There’s just no way things can shape up for I’ll Have Another as perfectly as they did in Louisville.”

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Jockey Sutherland takes daring step to bring attention to horse racing

Posted on 15 May 2012 by WNST Audio

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Your Monday Reality Check-As Preakness week begins, I wish…

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Your Monday Reality Check-As Preakness week begins, I wish…

Posted on 14 May 2012 by Glenn Clark

Maybe I’m not the person to say this.

I probably won’t make it out to the Preakness Crab Derby. I doubt the Preakness Frog Hop is part of my week. I didn’t get to the Preakness Hot Air Balloon Festival. I’m going to miss my first Black-Eyed Susan Stakes in years. I don’t intend to get to Power Plant Live to see Buckcherry or Mr. Greengenes or Foxy Shazam.

Hell, I’m even thinking about going to Annapolis Saturday to check out Maryland-Johns Hopkins and Loyola-Denver in the NCAA Tournament at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. I don’t know if my girlfriend will go for it, but I’ve been leaning in that direction.

If you’re not aware, I made it down to Louisville again this year for the Kentucky Derby. (And how could you possibly NOT be aware when you were checking out pictures like the one below from the Kentucky Derby Museum at Churchill Downs on my Facebook page during the trip?)

You fear that the rest of my column is going to be about how the Preakness isn’t nearly as good as the Kentucky Derby. Don’t. Everyone on the face of the planet knows that Preakness week isn’t Derby week. Despite how much breath you think I waste every afternoon during “The Reality Check” on AM1570 WNST.net, I don’t intend to waste more space here.

I don’t think Preakness week should be like Derby week. I think Preakness week should be the crowning moment of the entire calendar annually in Charm City.

At least…I wish it would be.

Drew Forrester and I used to try to figure out a way to correctly define the relationship between Preakness and the city of Baltimore when we would chat on “The Morning Reaction.” We would throw out terms like “the single biggest annual sporting event in the city” or “the most significant event the city hosts” or “the most important date on the sporting calendar every year” but never settled on one in particular. The truth is that based on attendance, Preakness is annually the single biggest event of any kind in the city. Economically, the Maryland Jockey Club has stated in the last two years that the event has an economic impact of $40-$60 million annually for the city and state.

Baltimore Orioles Opening Day has a significant economic impact for the area. Baltimore Ravens playoff games have significant economic impact for the area. The same can be said for the occasional NCAA lacrosse Final Four events. None have the impact of Preakness.

I wrote a similar column to this last year. Some of you were going to point that out. I’ll keep you from having to do just that by linking to it here. I hope you take a look if for no reason than to re-read the words of Newark Star-Ledger columnist Jerry Izenberg, who in 2010 described the relationship between Preakness and Baltimore so well the words should be engraved at Old Hilltop.

A year ago I was angry about how insignificant I felt Preakness had become in Baltimore. I’m not angry this year. I’m wishful. I wish it mattered more. I wish I was preparing to go out to Pimlico every afternoon this week to broadcast live. I wish my friends from around the country were calling me to let me know when they were getting in. I wish I had someone to blame for any of it.

I could blame the job the Maryland Jockey Club has done running the event and both Pimlico and Laurel Park. I could blame the city and state for not offering the level of support necessary to make the event the best it could possibly be. I could blame the sport of horse racing which has failed greatly to fully adapt to 2012 and in many ways still lives in 1942. I could blame us as Baltimoreans for spending too much time worrying about Washington’s pro hockey team and not enough time worrying about our own greatest event. I could blame area media for not treating the event with a level of reverence befitting an event that still annually involves the possibility of a Triple Crown winner.

(For years, the only conversation related to Preakness in Baltimore surrounded the concern that the race might leave the state for Florida. With that dialogue all but useless, area media members have been able only to fall back on “can (insert Derby winner name here) win the Triple Crown?”)

I’m going to talk to jockeys and trainers and horse analysts this week on my show. I’ll ask Kent Desormeaux (he’ll be riding Tiger Walk Saturday) about what it would mean to deliver a Preakness title to a Maryland group (Sagamore Farm). I’ll ask O’Neill about how the limited schedule for the Derby champ could keep his champ fresh for the second jewel. I’ll ask Mike Smith if a better ride aboard Bodemeister would mean the Bob Baffert horse would be coming to Baltimore with a chance to make history.

I’ll talk about horse racing like it mattered here. I’ll talk about the importance of the event to the city.

I wish I wouldn’t be the only one.

Carry on.

-G

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